Author: Mike Burns

MRB Contracting, architectural cottage,

20 Feb Black Point | first glimpse

Black Point is our latest in-house designed project. The cottage will look out onto Blind Bay and will be set amongst the trees. A couple of sketches and some photos from the site should give you a glimpse into what is to come. ...

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halifax winter, construction, framing, mrb contrating

18 Feb Clifton St. | framing bedrooms

The guys managed to get the roof on before the scheduled 'snow Wednesday.' It was a good thing too because with more flurries throughout the rest of the week it was a welcome relief to be out of the elements. Corey and Rockett focused on the interior walls for the bedrooms while Adam worked on the layout for recessed storage areas. Framing is almost complete. In the next few days the team will begin wrapping the house in VaproShield to get ready for cladding. ...

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MRB Contracting, halifax renovation, addition, ICF

11 Feb Wedgewood addition

The team has been building an addition on this bungalow in the Wedgewood neighbourhood. The addition will create a large living area that opens up to the kitchen. The best place to begin is with a fully insulated ICF foundation wall.  The next step will be to backfill the foundation and get ready for framing. Stay tuned. This promises to be a cool project. ...

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MRB Contracting, clifton st., TGI trusses

06 Feb Clifton St. | roof layout

It seems like the prevailing weather pattern thus far this year includes bluebird skies sprinkled around snowy Wednesdays. Inevitably every Thursday then begins with some snow removal. Regardless of those frigid facts the crew is making headway on the framing. By the time you read this the roof will be completely framed (unless of course we have a snowy Wednesday). The roof truss layout on this build is made slightly complicated by the lighting layout. So before the trusses are installed, foreman Adam uses the electrical plans to locate all the pot lights. He draws a red circle on the floor where the light will be located. Then he transfers that location to the walls so that when the truss location is laid out (typically every 16 inches), no trusses land where the lights will be.  Once the layout is complete the guys begin installing beams and hangers for the trusses. ...

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04 Feb Tasty Agricola St.

Agricola St. seems to be in constant flux. Luckily it's always for the better. In the last few months a few new doors have opened up to the public. The most notable additions are the Agricola Street Brasserie and Lion & Bright. The reviews for both of these places are quite positive so far and they definitely give the street a new vibe. Lion & Bright is an extension of the Local Source Market & Catering which has been in the area for many years now. Across the street are the classics like Smith Bakery and Nauss Bicycle Shop. It's great to see indy businesses thriving in our neighbourhood. ...

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MRB Contracting, Clifton St, halifax contractor

30 Jan Clifton St. | 2nd story framing

Below is a pictorial essay of the progression of the second story framing at the Clifton Street house. As one of the carpenters on the job site it's always amazing to see what a group of people working in concert can accomplish. The walls go up one at a time and before you know it there's a house. In a few more weeks we will be wrapping the house in VarpoShield and getting ready for cladding. Time flies when you're busy! ...

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28 Jan Amos Wood | textures

What role does texture play in architecture? Encyclopedia Britannica has this to say: Texture plays a dual role in architecture: it expresses something of the quality of materials, and it gives a particular quality to light. Although one absorbs both qualities simultaneously by eye, the first has tactile, the second visual associations. The Amos Wood project is a great example of the use of texture. Mixed mediums create warmth and a sense of space in an unlikely urban environment, where row houses fight for space with the sidewalks and trees. Two spacious second story decks afford private views of the street and the backyard. The original chimney bricks would almost contradict the clean new white walls. Except that they don't. Instead they provide visual warmth with their rich hues and charred bits. This project is nearing conclusion. Stay tuned for final photos. ...

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MRB Contracting, blizzard

23 Jan Clifton St. | the blizzard

There's a lot of talk about the latest blizzard. Schools were closed. Roads were slippery. The sorts of things one can expect to happen with a large snowfall well -just happened. There seem to be two major schools of thought when it comes to these seasonal weather events. Those who bemoan the white stuff and generally feel put out by it, and those who get out their shovels and continue on with their normal lives just as if everything is normal. Sure we had to do some shovelling this morning. We cleared a few of the neighbours driveways as well. And yet the work progressed as it usually does and we had a good laugh. Perspective is a beautiful thing. ...

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MRB Contracting, Clifton St., architectural homes, beams, mud

21 Jan Clifton St. | do’s and don’t’s

Don't: get your boots stuck in the mud. It took Rockett about 5 panicky minutes and a whole heap of shovelling to free up his sinking foot. Do: ask the excavator to help hoist a several hundred pound, 4-ply LVL beam ten feet into the air. With the benefit of the lift we were able to assemble the 4 ply's on flat ground with plenty of construction adhesive and a pile of fasteners. This thing will never come apart again. As I write this we are getting very close to framing the second story. So stay tuned for a visual of the complete structure in the coming days! ...

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MRB Contracting

16 Jan Team Profiles | Bryan Rockett

What's your name and job function? My name is Bryan Rockett and I'm a Carpenter Can you talk about your building trade background? My building background began in my grandfathers wood shop. I positively loved cleaning up all the saw dust he’d make, and most of all the smell and atmosphere of his shop. After graduating high school I spent 2 years working in commercial construction and soon came to realize if I really wanted to hone my carpentry skills I had to make a move to residential construction. I’ve been doing residential work ever since and proudly became a Red Seal carpenter. What's the most satisfying part of your job? The most satisfying part of my job is  when I can come up with a quick and correct solution to an issue that I run into during an elaborate renovation. I also love trying to come up with more efficient ways to complete tasks without compromising the end product. Favourite tool? My favourite tool is a toss up between my 21oz Dalluge hammer and my worm-drive Skill Saw. But if I had to choose I would probably go for the worm drive. Hobbies? I absolutely love playing squash, weight lifting, mountain biking, motorbiking and sharpening all my hand...

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MRB Contracting, Amos Wood, agricola street

14 Jan Amos Wood | cladding photo bomb

The guys over at Amos Wood on Agricola Street have been making great progress on the complex cladding program. Amos Wood chose three types of wood for cladding: cedar, pine and spruce. The 2" cedar strips were time consuming to say the least  -the results are striking. Horizontal and vertical orientation in the cladding design creates a varied sense of space. Space is also used on the cladding, decking and slatted railings to bring in light as well as to create a balance with the other linear patterns. The legions of vinyl clad homes in this North End neighborhood may suffer from wood envy when we're done with this place! Foreman Scott Billard is all smiles most of the time. Life is good when you're doing what you love. ...

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MRB Contracting, Clifton St., framing, air tight

09 Jan Clifton St. | framing part 2

For many carpenters, framing is one our favourite aspects of building a home. And what's not to love? We get to take a giant pile of sticks and convert them into a structure using nail guns and saws! In our last post we talked about some of the techniques we use for controlling air and moisture. Air and moisture can find ways of sneaking into (or out of) a house in ways that you never imagined. Each step of the build process offers opportunities to enhance the ability to minimize this fact. During framing we use acoustic seal between all plates (floor and top-plates) as well as in between the post laminations and header areas. The smallest space in between two pieces of lumber can cause the house to loose heat. The bead of acoustic seal creates an air and moisture barrier between the sandwiched together lumber. Sometimes when you think about how many things have to come together for an empty space to become a liveable house it seems really abstract. It's not unlike running marathon. You start with one foot and then the next. Every step counts and every step can make a difference. A runner cannot skip steps and...

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MRB Contracting, modern home halifax, framing

07 Jan Clifton St. | first floor

And we're back! We hope you had a great holiday. We did, and now we're ready to get back to work. Both the Agricola St. and Clifton St. projects are moving along - crazy weather not withstanding. At Clifton St., we completed the basement walls and  the main floor before the holiday break. Below, Corey and Brian install and LVL beam that will support the transitional area between the living area and kitchen. Engineered I-beams span with width of the foundation and will be the building blocks for everything that comes above. Mitigating the unwanted entry of air and moisture in a new house is one of the most talked about topics in modern building science. We will be talking about some of the techniques we use as we follow the build. Below, spray foam is used to fill a void between a beam pocket and the exterior ICF wall. The layer of foam reduces the possibility of thermal bridging. Once the beams and floor joists are installed it's time for the sub-floor. Construction adhesive and screws work together to make a solid and creak-less floor. The rear area of the home is a slab on grade. Once the small ICF wall was back filled,...

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25 Dec Happy Holidays!

Wishing you a happy holiday season from everyone at MRB Contracting. Thank you for following us on our website, Twitter, and on Facebook. We're looking forward to the exciting year ahead. See you in the New Year! ...

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net zero energy house, karuna house

19 Dec Inspiration | Net zero energy

What exactly is a net zero energy structure? Wikipedia tells us it's "a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually." That means that it's both off the municipal power grid, and does not utilize fossil fuels for energy. As you can imagine, this is no easy feat and yet it has been done. The Karuna House in Oregon has just received 3 prestigious green building awards, including LEED Platinum certification. So as to obtain the three certifications, and become a net zero energy structure, Karuna House was designed and built to have an advanced building enclosure. It also features an optimized solar design that works to drive energy loads to very low levels. The energy needed for the household is supplied via a solar photovoltaic array of less than 10 kilowatts. At MRB we are utilizing most of these technologies - from the various types of advanced performance weather membranes, to HVAC systems, to carefully planned insulation. However, we've yet to ingrate these technologies in an intentional way so as to create a net zero energy home. We'd love to be the first company to do build a net zero energy home here in Nova Scotia. To learn more about the Karuna House...

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MRB Contracting, modern homes, halifax

17 Dec Clifton St. | and then came snow

It's winter. Yes it's true. You can tell on our work site when everyone is wearing their insulated Carhartt overalls. Classy eh? Maybe not but definitely warm. At Clifton St. the guys have been working on building an architectural wall for the front entry as well as beginning on the framing. Below our man Rocket inspects the form work for the 8' x 8'6" x 4" wall. It's not easy being the foreman. Adam takes his job very seriously. And then came the storm. Sunday brought quite a bit of snow. It required a bit of digging to get ready for back-fill. Corey lines up the sill plates and installs them in preparation for the floor joists. Charlie looks on from the tractor as he waits for a load of gravel. The plates are first lined with a layer of BlueSkin. The water proof barrier protects the wood from the concrete. A thick bead of accoustic caulking is also applied between the concrete and wood to create an air barrier. Next up is framing. Stay tuned....

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12 Dec Safety tips | fire extinguishers

Today the MRB team got together for another of our regular safety training sessions. This time around the session focused on the proper use of fire extinguishers. Perhaps it seems like a simple thing. There's a fire. You see the red tank hanging on the wall. You pull the pin and spray. The truth is that it's not that simple, and knowing what types of extinguishers work for specific fires makes a big difference. Just about every home has a fire extinguisher or two laying around - usually in the kitchen. Take a look at the this link from Fire Prevention Canada to learn about what type of extinguisher you have and if it's the right one for your environment. ...

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MRB Contracting, Amos Wood, renovation agricola

10 Dec Amos Wood | progress report

The last update on this project covered some of the exterior upgrades to the building's facade. This week that trend continues. As you can see from the photo above, the entryway is still open to Agricola Street. Rigid foam and wire mesh were placed in the raw entry before pouring a concrete slab. A little work with the grinder reveals the aggregate is a very striking way. Moving inside, electrical, HRV and spray foam insulation are all well under way. The photo below is a great illustration of how spray foam covers a surface. Spray foam provides excellent R-value as well as moisture and air protection. And finally everyone's favourite part, the exterior siding. These two photos show only a glimpse of the beautiful vertical wood siding. Stay tuned for more! ...

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